When Free Comic Book Day began in 2002, comic books were really only just beginning to climb into the mainstream of pop culture. Films like Spider-Man and X-Men 2 spurred comic book sales, even without the modern necessity of constantly linked films and brooding teaser trailers mercilessly mocked by fans. When Marvel can turn a comic book featuring a talking space tree and mutant raccoon into a hit, it’s clear that comic books have finally broken out of the basement stores and awkward conventions of the past.

Some might say that there isn’t a need for Free Comic Book Day anymore, but those people clearly hate free stuff and decent sales from local businesses trying to lure fans old and new away from Amazon and into arguments over which Robin was best. Milwaukee Record offers this list of local businesses participating in this year’s event—set for Saturday, May 2—and what books to pick up during the ensuing shopping spree.

Collector’s Edge
The space: Four locations throughout the city have been birthing comic book geeks for years.
How many free comics can I score here? Officially two, though most locations are a bit flexible for people in comic book gear.
FCBD specials: 20% off all trade paperbacks.
Read the book, not the movie: Collector’s Edge is Milwaukee’s most successful comic book shop franchise, so picking up some books from the world’s most successful comic book movie franchise seems obvious. Why not get a head start on the next Avengers movie and start reading Civil War now?

Lost World of Wonders
The space: A big store that combines comics, games, manga, and Japanese treats otherwise only available by risking the aisles of Pacific Produce.
How many free comics can I score here? Four.
FCBD specials: 20% off all trade paperbacks. Local artists will also be on hand to sketch, draw, and otherwise show off their pencil skills.
Read the book, not the movie: Though technically not a straight up adaptation, Gotham pulls a lot of gritty inspiration from Gotham Central, a critically acclaimed series that focuses on the poor cops who have to deal with living in a city fought over by weirdoes in costumes.

Neptune Comics
The space: A big sprawling space that seems right at home in a big, sprawling Waukesha strip mall.
How many free comics can I score here? Three, with more available if customers bring in non-perishable food donations.
FCBD specials: Free cake, on-site massages, and cosplayers of both the superhero and Star Wars varieties for photo ops.
Read the book, not the movie: Marvel’s new Star Wars comics have been turning heads. They are currently available in single issues, but check out the original Marvel comics collections from the 1980s. Who knew a giant green space rabbit would be more acceptable than Jar Jar Binks?

UberDork Cafe
The space: A big, wide-open area with a cafe in the front and plenty of room for dorks of all ages in the back.
How many free comics can I score here? Two.
FCBD specials: Activities here include comic crafts, comic film movies, and even a Heroclix tournament for those epic Batman Vs. Groot fights fans have been dying for.
Read the book, not the movie: UberDork doesn’t sell comics, so let’s talk about a comic book that the whole family can love. Atomic Robo is an excellent all-ages comic that’s fun for kids and smart for adults, featuring a wisecracking robot and his team of Action Scientists.

Vortex Comics
The space: A classic establishment featuring back issues, crumpled comic book posters, and a window into comic fandom’s cramped, slightly musty past.
How many free comics can I score here? Three.
FCBD specials: 50% off all single back issues to fill in any holes in your The Power Of Warlock collection.
Read the book, not the movie: An old school comic book store like this deserves an old school book. Watchmen is a good choice, especially to see why the 2009 adaptation from future angst-y Superman director Zack Snyder is regarded as an interesting failure.

About The Author

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Rob Wieland is a contributor to the Milwaukee Record. He is an author, game designer, and professional nerd.